Southerland Introduces MAST Act To St. Andrew

ST. ANDREW-- Local recreational and commercial fishermen say they're losing out on fun and profit because of so many regulations.

US Representative Steve Southerland from Panama City says he believes he can help in at least one way.

Southerland held a press conference in St. Andrew Monday announcing a fisheries legislation he introduced in congress.

His "Marine Access and State Transparency Act" would take away the president's ability to shut down up to 780,000 square miles of ocean to fishing and energy exploration.

Right now the president has the ability to claim the area is a national monument.

Southerland's bill would require the approval of congress as well as the state legislature, the governor and surrounding states for any proposed monument closer than 100 miles from state waters.

"It turns that Gulf of Mexico into an aquarium rather than a sustainable fishery where we can enjoy our legacy or heritage and jobs," Southerland said.

There's two words that used to work a little bit together and one was protect and management. Now protect means zero the word management means sustainability. And that's where I think we've lost our common sense focus for future generations," Gene Raffield, fisherman, said.

Nationally 11 different recreational and commercial fishing associations are supporting the legislation.